Every year, I take advantage of our slack schedule in the summer during school break to teach my children something new. No, I don’t teach them Science, Math, or Social Studies lessons. I teach them life lessons – how to do chores and how to become more independent.
Like for instance, I think it was during a summer break when I toilet trained each one of them. This summer, I taught Ryland, my eight-year old son, how to give himself a bath. I know. It’s kinda late for him to be learning that just now. But he’s the youngest. He’s my baby. Now, if I could only make him wipe himself after he uses the toilet. I’ve already shown him how to do it and I know he would if I don’t come to the rescue, but he still calls me to do that yucky chore.
It was also during a school break when I started teaching my oldest son, Reggie, how to read Tagalog (the Philippine language). I asked a cousin in the Philippines to buy and send me this Tagalog alphabet book and I taught Reggie how to read the a-ba-ka-da (abc’s). I was so happy when he started reading sentences in Tagalog. But hold your breath there. He held that book only as long as summer lasted that year and didn’t really apply what he learned. For when he went back to school that Fall, he had to learn French. So the Tagalog lessons took a back seat.
It was summer three years ago when I got a little more serious in teaching not just Reggie, but also my middle son, Ryan, how to speak Tagalog (read here the reason why and how it went) so we had this “Word of the Day” lessons and I tested them at the end of every week. Well, we had more success in that method. Even though they understand me talking to them in Tagalog, they still answer me in English. But I’ll take that. It’s still progress, right? And if you think they completely understand Tagalog, not really. But I’m still on that quest. So whenever I catch myself talking to them mostly in English, I’d revert to Tagalog and if they don’t understand, I’d translate what I just said in English. This is the method I now use with my youngest son.
Here’s an example:
“Ryland pagkatapos mong kumain, walisin mo ang sahig, please, okay?”
“What did you say, Mommy?”
“When you’re done eating, can you please sweep the floor?”
“And then iligpit mo yung kalat mo duon sa sala. Naintindihan mo ako?” *
“Clean my mess. What’s sala again?”
“The living room.”
Since hired house help is basically non-existent in this part of the world, or if there is any around we wouldn’t be able to afford it, I give my children chores. I think it’s important that they help around the house, not just to help me, but also to teach them how to be responsible. (You can read more about my take on Children and Chores here.)
It’s also in the summer when I introduce them to new chores. Ryland learned how to wash the dishes last year. This year I taught him how to dust the furniture. Maybe next year, I’ll teach him how to cook rice.
Reggie, who’s 16, already knows how to fry meat and how to cook adobo. A few weeks ago, I showed him how to and let him stir fry vegetables. So one night, I was swamped with work and I gave him instructions on how to sauté the garlic, onion, tomato and then add the pork and diced potatoes. I thought it all went well. We were already about to eat when I noticed that he didn’t cut up all the tomatoes. He left the seeds in the cutting board. “Reggie, this is what gives taste to that dish.” Oh, well, how can you get mad when he did try to help.
Last week, I asked him to scramble some eggs. “You’ve seen me scramble eggs before, right?” I asked him. “Just put some oil in the pan and cook it.” Nothing could go wrong with that, I thought. When I went downstairs, Ryland said, “Mommy, Kuya** burned the egg.” One look at the yellow-brownish thing on the plate and I knew that he had the pan too hot. “It’s okay,” I told my youngest son. “It’s just the colour. It’s not really burned.” It did taste like it was burned and I forgot to tell him to put a pinch of salt. But hey, we all have burnt something, right? And that’s how we learn, from our mistakes.
* Naintindihan mo ako? = Did you understand me?
** Kuya = what we call an older brother
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